Half an hour into her joyful set at the Beacon Theater last night regina Spektor has completely lost her place. She is giggling at first and then laughing and then almost gurgling with pleasure. “Rehearsing at the Beacon theater,” she says, “there’s so many of you”. then she shrugs, “Fuck it,” and turns back to arranging the song with her string section. “I’m so happy,” she says and she is obviously in a great mood.
Opening band Little Joy are happy to be there as well and their cocktail lounge, Brazilian bossa nova easy tilting grooves are going down easy, maybe too easy -an indie Bebel Gilberto. They are a good looking band, co-vocalist Binki Shapiro will be wandering between back stage and the end of the orchestra and she is completely distracting, but they are slight. Pretty but a bit bland -they are like the girl # 2 in the dating game; you like her but you don’t want to take her home. The penultimate song was my fave “Don’t Watch Me Dancing,” a lovely little number. I hear Fabrizio isn’t touring with them by the way. Spektor opened for the Strokes in 2003 so you would think the drummer for both the Strokes and Little Joy might have returned the favour.
Except for two songs on guitar (“I wish I knew more”) Spektor sits at her piano throughout the set. She opens with “Folding Chairs” off her new album and continues with another seven new songs till reaching an oldie, a splendid “On The Radio”, and it doesn’t matter. All the new stuff is maybe her best stuff ever, every song cuts deep with a bouyancy that is like maybe a ball bouncing on the ocean: the undertow pulls her down but she is still light and above it.
She pounds the piano and carries the beat in her fingers, sometimes she plays with one hand and bangs a stick on a chair with the other, she jokes with the drummer and the string section (and the audience) but she is essentially a one woman band and she sings high and low and all points inbetween these strange wonderful story songs. At one point she fakes an orgasm for the end of “Bobbing For Apples,” at another she crushes another oldie called “Samson”.
The best moment is in the still to be released “All The Holocaust Deniers” -a song with all the weight of history resting on its beautiful and obtuse take on anti-Semitism. This is the ultimate expression of Regina’s gift: an ability to deal with the most difficult of subjects in a manner both unique and completely appropriate. It is the most important song of the year and in this setting it is simply stunning.
This is also Regina’s great gift: she is light and heavy at the same. Alone at the piano she performs one stand out after another: it is truly remarkable, the new songs, the old songs, the green guitar, the hip hop rap on “Consequence Of Sound” her voice soaring through octaves but steady and complete.
She ends the night with another favorite, “Fidelity”. Regina is nervous at the Beacon, nervous rehearsing the set she’ll be taking on tour, pretty certain she has the goods, in a really good mood, in fine voice, excited as opposed to tired, ready to take over the world: all of the above made what would have been an exceptional concert under any circumstances into a triumph.